Friday, May 11, 2007


I just read RE's post about class and how she grew up. Combined with a prompt on I wanna say Fetch Me My Axe about parents and how they've shaped how we think, I'm now thinking about the ways in which I'm a product of my upbringing.

First off: rich white American. I often feel a sense of distance towards a number of social concerns because I've never been there. I've always had enough to eat, I've always had somewhere to live, I had a good education. Hell, I've never in my life been beaten up. I've never been harassed on the bus. Bandaids match my skin color It really blows my mind to think about how things are overseas, where things like having clean water are a concern. I pretty much can't imagine them; I have always been comfortable. It seems like a different world.

My parents both have graduate degrees in the sciences. I grew up in a house full of books, and learned to read before I went to kindergarten. Nature and nurture conspired to make me the kid grade-school teachers love. Intellectual curiosity was fostered, and I never got yelled at for asking questions. My parents put a high value on education. This was both good and bad, really. I wound up internalizing the academic barometer for success in a big way. Maybe this works for some people and they feel great about themselves. Not for me. Every time I didn't finish something on time, every time I did poorly on an assignment, I knew I was disappointing my parents and my teachers, and I felt like a bad person. Four years since my learning disability diagnosis, three years out of a hellishly stressful high school environment, and I'm just starting to break free of this mindset. I am finally starting to realise that no individual action defines my worth. I don't think I have to be The Best at everything. I point to this mindset as a significant cause of my daddy issues, my eating disorder, my academic anxiety, my general inability to have any sane perspective on myself.

My mother is the child of an alcoholic. She is spectactularly good at sticking her fingers in her ears and ignoring anything bad. She sees what she wants to see despite any evidence to the contrary. Not only did I inherit this ability (which sucks) but I was shaped by it big-time. I wound up with the idea that I need to take care of all my shit on my own without help. I wound up feeling like bad things need to be a secret, like I need to shield people from things in my life that might upset them. Amazingly enough, this extends to therapists! It's very hard for me to ask for help. I often feel like my negative emotions are insignificant, overreactions, whining, or otherwise invalid and not to be brought up in polite company.

I think I got my LD from my father. All of his social skills were learned intellectually, by rote, after long practise in a managerial job. In thirty years I may be the same. I don't know if growing up with him, not having the usual interactions, influenced anything, or if my neurology makes it moot. I suddenly wonder if his amusing overplanning, the colored file folders he brings on every trip with printouts of his rental car, hotel, flight information, and any interesting tourist sites, is all just overcompensation for organizational skills as sucky as mine. I wonder if he gets so cranky when he's planning and leading things because it doesn't come naturally and it wears. Hopefully in thirty years I will not be like this. I am lucky here: I can rely on my boyfriend for these things and it's socially acceptable. My father is The Man Of The House. Maybe he doesn't want to be, maybe after taking care of his four younger siblings as a child he's stuck in a role he never wanted but doesn't know any alternatives to.

[This part is a bit of a tangent] I took a year off from school between high school and college. I hadn't realised previously that I could have a life that did not revolve around school. I didn't know there were alternatives. You go to school, you go to college, you Get A Good Job. Then what? I think next on that calendar is dying. I don't like that plan anymore. I see a big contrast between how I live now, even when I am in school, and the way I approached life before. Freshmen who didn't take time off seem to be different. Or maybe other people realise how to live on their own, and I was just slow to pick up on it. I think some people do, but so many remind me of myself in high school, fitting a life in around the edges of class and work.

It's late, I'm getting distracted from my topic, I'll leave it here.


Kim said...

Hey Allie -- thanks for visiting my blog. Looks like you got some good stuff here! Thanks, too, for weighing in (what a horrible pun) with your ED experience.
I'll be back!

Renegade Evolution said...

Allie; Eh, all types of people have it rough, I think.

Allie said...

I remember, in high school, extensively belaboring Victor Frankl's point that "suffering is like a gas, it expands to fill your soul" or whatever the second half of that quote is supposed to be. We hammered it so much in class that we all started mocking it, but a couple years later Man's Search For Meaning is my favorite "serious literary book" and I'm very fond of the quote. Everything is so very subjective that it's really impossible to compare pain across people or even, often, across situations for the same person, and suffering is just suffering.

Anonymous said...

Looking for [url=]30 year fixed mortgages rates uk[/url] ? Well guess what. Thats not what were going to be talking about today ehehe. [img][/img]

Do you want to know about Buy a High-quality Eyeglass Frame Color Now

For anyone who is presently sporting a pair of eyeglasses then you have to think of how you glance with them and the[url=] best teeth whitening strips [/url] to go with it as you can still see, not all of eyeglasses can make you appearance fine. There is really a particular combination of style and coloring needed to highlight your very best functions. Apart from your physical functions, you ought to also think of the dress that you just are putting on. Your eyeglass style should really go well with other accessories or clothing that you simply are presently sporting. If you're having a tough time in choosing the ideal coloring for your eyeglass frames then I would suggest that you just get yourself a pair of [url=] red eyeglass frames[/url]considering not only they could glance effective with any kind of accessories and clothing style, they could also make you stand out simply because of its warm and light colour.